Susana Martinez will not return campaign donations from a man convicted of domestic abuse, a spokesman for the governor told the Albuquerque Journal earlier this week.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, brought up the donations on Monday, days before the end of the legislative session.
The news of Hiles’ domestic abuse and donation to Martinez was first revealed in New Mexico by New Mexico In Depth. Hiles also made significant donations to Advance New Mexico Now, a high profile PAC that helped Republicans take control of the House of Representatives.
Hiles’ donations became an issue because the treasurer of Advance New Mexico Now PAC, Matthew Chandler, was in front of the Senate on confirmation to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. The Senate ultimately voted not to confirm Chandler, the first of Martinez’ appointments that the Senate had rejected in five years.
Despite Sanchez’s calls to return the money, a spokesman for Martinez said there was no money to return. From the Journal:
However, a spokesman for the Republican governor told the Journal the criminal history of Hiles was not known until recently and that returning the money in question would not be feasible.
“The campaign has long since ended, and you can’t return money that’s already been spent,” Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said.
Martinez’s latest campaign finance report showed her campaign account had nearly $200,000 money left over as of November 28.
New Mexico Political Report reached out to Knell to ask if that money has been spent. After inquiring on Tuesday morning, there was no response as of Wednesday afternoon.
“Mr. Hiles was convicted two years ago for viciously attacking a woman. Governor Martinez certainly would have known about this when she accepted his money for her re-election effort,” Sanchez said in a statement. “He was the largest single donor to her PAC, Advance New Mexico Now.”
Hiles’ domestic abuse conviction was not widely known when the donation was made. Though he pleaded guilty to the domestic abuse charges in 2013, it wasn’t until the Dallas Morning News reported on it in relation to large donations he made to now-Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and now-Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Hiles also served on the Texas Tax Policy Advisory Board, though after the revelation about his domestic abuse conviction, he resigned.
Abbott and Patrick each said they would donate the more-than $700,000 to services for abuse victims throughout Texas.
Martinez’s office did not answer questions from the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Martinez’s Democratic opponent in the 2014 election, Gary King, returned tens of thousands of dollars from companies with ties to Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender. As the New Mexican reported at the time:
Referring to Epstein as King’s “largest donor,” Martinez said, “I certainly think you would know where your money comes from. … and it just so happens to be a sex offender.”